In a castle, 600 years ago…
Zoe’s last bath had been quite a while ago. She wasn’t planning to have another wash for at least six months, and only then if she felt particularly grubby. No-one told her how bad she smelled (particularly since she had never ever brushed her teeth) because everyone else smelled just as bad – if not worse.
Today was quite hot and she was feeling a little bit pongy. She always wore a pomander around her neck to cover the smell – a little silver case full of spices and herbs. Luckily it was strong enough so she didn’t have to smell anyone else, either! When she wasn’t wearing her pomander, Zoe hung it in the wardrobe. It made her clothes smell nice, but more importantly it kept away the moths that liked to chew holes in all her nicest dresses.
A scientific lab, in recent times…
Dr Zoe peered through an electron-microscope at the clove-oil sample. ‘Eureka!’ she thought. All her research and hard work was paying off. People might think that natural ingredients were just old-fashioned remedies for keeping insects away, but she had discovered that cloves contained a chemical ‘Eugenol’ – a very effective pesticide. Orange peel also had a special ingredient (d-Limonene) and cinnamon too, with its chemical ‘cinnamaldehyde’.
All combined, they were very effective in keeping insects away, and no-one could deny the scientific proof!
From the Powerhouse Museum’s collection:
This little perfume bottle is shaped like an acorn and, like a pomander, it was meant to be worn – perhaps as a pendant on a necklace, or on a chain at the waist. It dates from around 1900. Take a closer look.